Afghanistan's reclusive new leaders, the Taliban, are asking for a chance to address the United Nations General Assembly, but they are unlikely to get their wish — at least not in the current session.
The U.N. credentials committee has yet to sort out who is even Afghanistan's legitimate ambassador — Ghulam Isaczai, who was seated by the now-ousted government of Ashraf Ghani; or Suhail Shaheen, the current Taliban spokesman based in Doha, who the Taliban have nominated as Isaczai's replacement.
Isaczai is scheduled to address the General Assembly on Monday, the final day of the current session. But the Taliban have argued that he no longer represents Afghanistan, the Associated Press reports.
They want the nine-member credentials committee, which includes the U.S., Russia and China, to recognize the Taliban and its ambassador before then. But the committee isn't scheduled to meet until Monday, and a senior U.S. State Department official told the AP that the committee "would take some time to deliberate" on that matter.
That timeline suggests that even if the Taliban get their wish to be seated, their first opportunity to address the General Assembly would likely not come until the body's next session — scheduled for a year from now.
Complicating matters further is that several ministers in the Taliban's interim government are on a U.N. terrorism watch list, the AP says.
When the Taliban were last in power in Afghanistan, from 1996-2001, the U.N. never recognized that government.
U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told the AP that Secretary-General António Guterres had received the Taliban request on letterhead from "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs," signed by "Ameer Khan Muttaqi" as "Minister of Foreign Affairs."